Dan Feldman

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Doc Rivers: Celtics have undergone best rebuild ‘maybe ever’


Doc Rivers left the Celtics in 2013 because he didn’t want to rebuild. Ray Allen had already left, and Boston traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets. Rivers joined the ready-built Clippers, who featured Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and offered front-office control.

Four years later, the Celtics advanced further than the Clippers ever did under Rivers. Rivers has been stripped of his presidency of the Clippers, who project to be worse than Boston for the foreseeable future.

Rivers, via Stephen Hewitt of the Boston Herald:

“My love for them hasn’t changed,” Rivers said of the Celtics. “For me, it was time for me to change. When you’re somewhere for nine years, you don’t think whether it’s the right or wrong decision, you think it’s the right decision for you at that time. But as far as wanting them to do well, that will never change. Unless they’re playing me.

“Other than that, love Danny (Ainge), love (owner Steve Pagliuca), that whole group, and I just want them to do well. I really do. I love what they’ve done. I think the turnaround in four years starting with hiring Brad and then going from … (Ainge) and (assistant general manager) Mike Zarren have done the best job I’ve seen in sports in a long, long time of rebuilding. Maybe ever.”

I wonder whether Rivers regrets leaving the Celtics, whose rebuild was masterful.

Danny Ainge traded Garnett and Pierce just before their production fell off a cliff, receiving a massive return and sabotaging Brooklyn into high first-round picks that conveyed to Boston (including Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum). The Celtics also nailed smaller moves, like trading a low first-rounder for Isaiah Thomas and getting Jae Crowder thrown into the Rajon Rondo trade. They’re poised to advance even further with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

Of course, another decision Ainge aced was hiring Brad Stevens to replace Rivers. Stevens is one of the NBA’s best coaches, and though Rivers is also respected, the Celtics might not be as well of if they just kept Rivers.

Still, those Nets picks would have been a huge head start no matter who was coaching Boston.

Rivers’ decision to leave was logical, but in hindsight, it sure seems he came out behind in L.A.

At least Rivers gets to keep his dual-title salary while only coaching the Clippers.

Dennis Rodman calls for Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un to sit down together

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Dennis Rodman endorsed Donald Trump for president. The former Bulls and Pistons star has also befriended Kim Jong Un during numerous trips to North Korea.

With the threat of nuclear war between the United States and North Korea looming, Rodman has thoughts.

Rodman on Good Morning Britain:

I think if the president even tries to reach out for Kim, I think it will be a great possibility. Things can happen if Donald Trump, if they could sit down and have some type of mutual conversation. It don’t have to be like a friendship type of conversation, just a mutual conversation saying, “Hi, I would love to engage in some words and politics and over the history of your country and my country” and just try to start some dialogue. I think that’ll open up maybe the door just a little bit.

I wanted to say that publicity-hungry Rodman is just angling for attention and is not at all useful toward brokering peace.

But who the heck knows any more?

Rumor: Dwyane Wade feels Bulls misled him

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Dwyane Wade made noise about wanting to see the Bulls’ direction before deciding on his player option.

But despite Chicago actively shopping Jimmy Butler, Wade opted in.

The most obvious reason? Take it straight from Wade: His $23.8 million salary.

Now that the Bulls actually traded Butler (to the Timberwolves) and Wade’s salary is guaranteed, there has been a lot of noise about a buyout.

Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype:

To say that the relationship between Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls’ front office is strained would be an understatement. Wade hasn’t communicated with management in over two months, which is why there have been numerous reports suggesting a buyout is inevitable.

Wade’s frustration stems from the fact that he feels the front office misled him about the direction of the team. As his June 27 deadline to opt-in to the final year of his contract approached, the veteran shooting guard wanted assurances from the front office that the Bulls would field a competitive team during the 2017-18 season. Wade didn’t want to opt-in and then watch the franchise enter a rebuilding period. Sources close to the situation say that Wade received those assurances. Jimmy Butler was also given the impression that he wouldn’t be traded, according to league sources.

Perhaps, the Bulls misled Wade and Butler. This isn’t the first time that has been at least implied. (Butler has consistently publicly conveyed a reasonable understanding of the business.)

But it sounds as if Wade is just angling to get the best of both worlds – a huge payout and the freedom to choose his team.

The 35-year-old clearly no longer fits on a rebuilding team. So, a buyout is logical – especially after the trade deadline, if Wade’s expiring contract can’t be useful in a trade.

The biggest question is how much money Wade would relinquish to join the Cavaliers, Lakers, Clippers, Heat or whomever else. This report reads as if he’s trying to minimize his giveback by painting the Bulls as the villains of the situation.

And, again, maybe they are.

But Wade chose to opt in. Whether or not he was misled, he must live with the consequences of that decision.

That might include leaking information, true or not, that paints himself as the victim held hostage in Chicago.

Rumor: Grizzlies, JaMychal Green progressing toward two-year contract

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The Grizzlies reportedly offered JaMychal Green significantly more than his $2,820,497 qualifying offer, but he remains unsigned.

Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal on Sports 56:

What I’m hearing is that it will be done, but it will be a short-term deal. I think, initially, they were trying to get a long-term deal done – four years.

I think it will end up being two years. They’ve just got to get to the money.

A two-year deal could work well for both sides.

As long as they’re keeping Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, the Grizzlies need a credible starting power forward now, and Green is one. Memphis can offer Green a starting salary north of $14 million while staying below the luxury-tax line. Pinched by a tight market for restricted free agents and bigs – Green is both – he almost certainly can’t command anywhere near that much. So, the tax shouldn’t be an issue for the Grizzlies.

Green has earned just the NBA minimum in two full seasons plus a little extra on a few 10-day contracts. He hasn’t banked enough to risk taking the qualifying offer. Getting two guaranteed seasons at a moderate salary, even if it’s not quite commensurate with his production, could change his life. He’d also get a chance to try for a far-more-lucrative contract as an unrestricted free agent at age 29.

This sounds as if it’s heading toward a resolution neither side loves, which indicates it’s at least fair.

Report: Celtics don’t know when Isaiah Thomas initially injured hip

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Isaiah Thomas missed four games last December with what the Celtics called a knee injury. Then, he missed two games in March with what Boston deemed a groin injury. Finally, in shutting down Thomas for the playoffs due to a hip injury in May, the team acknowledged the March injury was actually a hip injury.

Was the December injury also to Thomas’ hip?

What the Celtics knew and when they knew it have become major questions.

They traded Thomas to the Cavaliers, who ultimately demanded an additional second-round pick after giving Thomas a physical. Cleveland, gunning for a championship against the high-powered Warriors, has little margin for error. Neither does Thomas, a 5-foot-9 28-year-old who opted against surgery and is entering a contract year he hopes will culminate with a max contract.

Tom Haberstroh of ESPN spoke to several medical experts, including Dr. Carlos Guanche about Thomas’ condition. Haberstroh:

Though Thomas’ hip condition was only made public in May, league sources told ESPN.com that the Celtics organization was not certain exactly when the labral tear occurred. The Towns collision on March 15 was one possible aggravation point, but the initial timing of the tear remains unclear.

Given the circumstances, Guanche says he was surprised to see that Thomas had opted to forgo surgery in May.

“That would have been the time to get it fixed,” Guanche says. “It was a gamble.”

Thomas is rehabbing in Cleveland with a chip on his shoulder. He insists he’ll be fine.

But bravado goes only so far with injuries. Thomas can’t necessarily will himself through this like he willed himself to NBA stardom, though I understand why that experience would inform his current attitude.

He could be fine. Maybe he’ll recover fully. Maybe it’s not too late for surgery.

But Haberstroh’s in-depth foray into Thomas injury is eye-opening. I suggest reading it in full.